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Consider our books for the new curriculum-writers plead

A group of Kenyan writers have called on the government to give upcoming authors and publishers a chance in partnerships when vetting books for the new curriculum.

Led by Andrew Maina of Kendeka Prize for African Literature, they said the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) only considers established writers and publishers during the vetting exercise, locking others out.

Speaking during an authors’ forum at Mount Kenya University today, they said such restrictions demotivate upcoming writers making others quit the profession.

They said the system should be more open to give space for upcoming writers and publishers to penetrate the market, adding that if not addressed, it might affect the future of writing in the country.

“We have several young and upcoming writers who want to venture into writing for the curriculum. What the government should do is to support them by opening the market for them through partnerships. As things stand; the market has been dominated by established writers and publishers and is hard to penetrate,” said Maina, an award winning writer.

He also decried the difficult environment that writers are facing saying only a handful of Kenyans buy books.

He said it was heartbreaking for authors to use their time and resources to write books only for them to stay unpurchased in the bookshops for years.

While noting that writing has become less lucrative due to lack of market, he called on upcoming writers to diversify writing with other projects that sustain them.

“Our main challenge is selling our books. We can barely survive on writing alone and that’s why the government should intervene through streamlining marketing. Kenyans too should embrace the reading culture and buy books,” he said.

Scholastica Moraa, an author decried the high cost of publishing and marketing books, saying most of the materials are lying on the shelves unpublished.

She lauded platforms like e-book and other online book marketing sites adding that a lot needs to be done to improve on the reading culture to be able to increase returns.

“We have a lot of written literature lying on the shelves which might be helpful to our people. If only we can get support for publishing and marketing our materials, the sector can open up,” said Moraa.

Ugandan Austin Bukenya, a Literature lecturer, called on upcoming writers to consider hiring literary agents to take them through the ropes of publishing, marketing and royalties.

By Muoki Charles

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